From small surprises to studio tentpoles, it's a whiplash journey

As the most scattershot Oscar season in recent memory kicks into high gear, there is, as Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences prexy Frank Pierson tactfully puts it, a great “diversity” of nominees. From smallish surprises such as adapted screenplay nom “Ghost World” to foreign faves such as “Amelie” to studio tentpoles such as “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring,” it’s been a whiplash journey to the final five in each category. Add to this unprecedented campaigning and press coverage, and even veteran kudo watchers are feeling trapped in an award season version of “Black Hawk Down.”

In an effort to bring order to the barrage, Variety has produced The Nominees. This special report scorecards each race’s contenders, with individual entries including Oscar pedigree, kudos to date, critical acclaim and nominee commentary on the project. Hopefully, this presentation will prove a helpful reference to those of us facing a welter of options — whether it’s for the office pool, friendly bragging rights or an AMPAS ballot.

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